23:24 GMT +322 November 2019
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    Peter Liang, the New York City police officer convicted in the shooting death of Akai Gurley in the stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project.

    NYPD’s Peter Liang Will Serve No Time After Killing Unarmed Akai Gurley

    © AP Photo / Mary Altaffer
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    Peter Liang, the first New York cop in a decade convicted of an on-duty murder, will not go to prison after the judge lessened his conviction from manslaughter to criminally negligent homicide just before sentencing.

    In February, a jury found the former NYPD officer guilty of manslaughter and official misconduct after shooting dead an unarmed black man in a dimly lit stairwell back in 2014. At the time Liang faced up to 15 years in jail.

    On Tuesday, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun lightened the conviction, sentencing the suspect to five years of probation and 800 hours of community service.

    ​The killing occurred in November 2014, when rookie officer Liang, along with his partner, were patrolling in Brooklyn’s Louis H. Pink Houses, a housing project. Liang, carrying his gun in hands, claimed that he accidentally fired it after the two policemen entered the stairwell. Later Laing said he was frightened by a sudden sound in the darkness.

    The bullet ricocheted off the wall and struck Akai Gurley, a 28-year African-American man, who was walking down the stairs with his girlfriend.

    ​After Gurley was shot, the officers argued about which one of them would report the firearm discharge to their bosses, rather than performing CPR to the dying man. Later, Liang claimed that he didn’t know that he had shot someone.

    The two cops had not been properly trained in CPR skills and, according to reports, had been helped at police school by teachers to pass the graduation exams.

    Melissa Butler, Akai’s girlfriend, was the only who tried to perform CPR before emergency workers arrived.

    “Akai took his last breath and died in my hands,” Butler said in the courtroom. “I’m suffering while you still have your life.”

    In court, Liang apologized to Gurley’s relatives, saying he “always treated people with fairness and respect.”

    In March, district attorney Kenneth Thompson said he would seek a jail term for Liang and called for a sentence of five years of probation, with six months of home confinement.

    ​​At the sentencing, about 200 extra cops were outside the courthouse to prevent possible clashes between supporters and protesters.

    Gurley’s family, friends and supporters remain unsatisfied with the court’s decision, promising to conduct rallies after the sentence.


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    African American, killing, conviction, sentence, trial, New York, United States
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